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Tags: antony blinken | zakiya carr johnson | dei | state department

Blinken Names DEI Chief After 10-Month Vacancy

By    |   Tuesday, 02 April 2024 12:22 PM EDT

Secretary of State Antony Blinken appointed a new chief diversity and inclusion officer nearly a year after the position became vacant.

Zakiya Carr Johnson, the new chief, was described as an experienced race, social inclusion, and diversity expert who will be in charge of building a workforce that "reflects America," Blinken said in a statement, NBC News reported.

Representatives and officials from several State Department employee groups said they were surprised that it had taken Blinken 10 months to fill the position, which doesn't require a confirmation vote from the Senate. 

Many said they would also have liked the opportunity to share their thoughts before Carr Johnson's appointment. 

Merry Walker, president of the Asian American Foreign Affairs Association, said Carr Johnson will face the challenge of a "massive retention issue at the department, especially at the mid-levels."

Other representatives said they are also concerned about keeping staff at the State Department. 

"We disproportionately see women and minorities leaving," a senior official said on the condition of anonymity. "Not in high numbers, but they add up over time and they harm our pipeline."

Carr Johnson served at the State Department from 2010-17 before leaving to start organizations working with historically marginalized communities, said Blinken, adding that she will bring "international expertise and a fresh perspective on how we build a workforce that reflects America."

"Her previous work promoting entrepreneurship and access to opportunity for underrepresented populations, as well as her commitment to inclusive leadership, make us stronger, smarter, and more innovative," Blinken said. 

A State Department internal survey in 2022 found that 44% of respondents said they had experienced discrimination, with 27% reported harassment, including sexual harassment. 

In addition, a report by the Government Accountability Office last year, which singled out the State Department, found that most federal employees who experience harassment do not report it. 

Meanwhile, several State Department officials said that Arab Americans, Black Americans. and Hispanic Americans are underrepresented, partly because of assignment restrictions that can keep diplomats from working on matters related to the families' background countries. 

Carr Johnson said in the statement that she is honored to serve her country and professionals at the State Department, and that "we stand more determined than ever to address both historic inequalities and new challenges in order to strengthen our modern workforce."

Sandy Fitzgerald

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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Secretary of State Antony Blinken appointed a new chief diversity and inclusion officer nearly a year after the position became vacant.
antony blinken, zakiya carr johnson, dei, state department
383
2024-22-02
Tuesday, 02 April 2024 12:22 PM
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